Open main menu

Crash is a 2004 American drama film produced, directed, and co-written by Paul Haggis. The film features racial and social tensions in Los Angeles. A self-described "passion piece" for Haggis, Crash was inspired by a real-life incident, in which his Porsche was carjacked in 1991 outside a video store on Wilshire Boulevard.[3]

Crash ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPaul Haggis
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Paul Haggis
  • Bobby Moresco
Story byPaul Haggis
Music byMark Isham
CinematographyJ. Michael Muro
Edited byHughes Winborne
  • Bob Yari Productions
  • DEJ Productions
  • Blackfriars Bridge
  • Harris Company
  • ApolloProScreen Productions
  • Bull's Eye Entertainment
Distributed byLionsgate Films
Release date
  • September 10, 2004 (2004-09-10) (TIFF)
  • May 6, 2005 (2005-05-06) (United States)
Running time
112 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$6.5 million[2]
Box office$98.4 million[2]

Several characters' stories interweave during two days in Los Angeles: a black detective estranged from his mother; his criminal younger brother and gang associate; the white district attorney and his irritated, pampered wife; a racist white police officer who disgusts his more idealistic younger partner; an African-American Hollywood director whose wife must deal with the racist officer; a Persian-immigrant father who is wary of others; and a hard-working Hispanic locksmith family man.

The film deals with racism in a rather impartial approach; rather than separating the characters into victims and offenders, victims of racism are often shown to be prejudiced themselves in different contexts and situations; racist remarks and actions are often shown to stem from ignorance and misconception rather than malice.

The film features an ensemble cast, including Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, William Fichtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Thandie Newton, Michael Peña, and Ryan Phillippe. Matt Dillon was particularly praised for his performance and received Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor. Additionally, the cast won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The film received six Academy Award nominations, and won three for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing at the 78th Academy Awards. It was also nominated for nine BAFTA awards, and won two, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Thandie Newton.



Detective Graham Waters has suffered a car accident with his partner Ria. He mentions that the citizens of Los Angeles have lost their "sense of touch." Ria and the driver of the other car, Kim Lee, exchange racially charged insults. When Waters exits the car, he arrives at a police investigation crime scene concerning the discovery of a "dead kid." While purchasing a revolver at a gun store, Farhad, a Persian shop owner, and his daughter Dorri, argue over what box of bullets they should buy. The gun store owner grows impatient and degrades the two of them by referring to Farhad as "Osama." Farhad asserts that he is an American citizen, but the store owner continues insulting Farhad and has the security guard escort him out of the store. Faced with a choice, the store owner gives the gun to Dorri who then leaves with a specific box of bullets. Two black men Anthony and Peter carjack a married couple named Rick, a district attorney, and Jean Cabot as they are about to enter their SUV. At the Cabot house, Hispanic locksmith Daniel Ruiz changes their locks and leaves the keys on the kitchen counter when Jean notices his tattoos.

Waters and Ria arrive at the scene of a shooting between two drivers, both of whom are undercover police officers consisting of one who survived and the other who is dead. LAPD officer John Ryan calls an HMO on behalf of his father and has a racially charged argument with a representative named Shaniqua Johnson. Ryan and his partner Tom Hansen pull over the vehicle similar to the one carjacked earlier, despite discrepancies in the descriptions, and order the couple, director Cameron Thayer and his wife Christine, to exit. Cameron is cooperative, but Christine is argumentative. Ryan then sexually assaults her under the auspices of a pat-down, humiliating her and her husband before releasing them. Arriving home from work, Daniel gives his young daughter Lara an "invisible impenetrable cloak," which makes her feel safe enough to fall asleep in her bed.

In the carjacked SUV, Anthony and Peter hit a Korean man while passing a parked van, dump him in front of a hospital, and drive away. Hansen talks to his superior Lt. Dixon about switching partners, but Dixon denies that. Ryan visits Shaniqua and apologizes for the argument, but Shaniqua nearly calls security to escort Ryan out of her office. Daniel replaces a lock at Farhad's shop, but is accused of cheating by Farhad. He discovers the store has been wrecked and defaced with graffiti, causing it to face closure and Farhad to vow revenge on Daniel. Waters visits his hard drug-abusing mother, who asks him to find his missing younger brother.

Ryan comes across a car accident and as he crawls into the overturned vehicle, he finds Christine trapped. With the help of his partner and spectators, Ryan pulls Christine out just as her car bursts into flames. Anthony and Peter approach another navigator which happens to be Cameron's. They only see Cameron driving after they open the door and are shocked to see that the driver is black. Anthony tells Peter to shoot Cameron, but Peter does not. As police officers arrive, Cameron and Anthony both race for the car and jump in. Cameron drives away, with Anthony continuing to point a gun at him. Cameron drives into a dead end, puts Anthony's gun into his pocket, and exits the car, all the while yelling insults at the officers. Hansen vouches for Cameron, fending off the other officers, and promising to give him a "harsh" warning.

Farhad locates Daniel's house and waits in ambush. As he confronts Daniel with his gun in hand, Lara jumps into Daniel's arms, attempting to protect her father with the "invisible cloak." Daniel's wife Elizabeth runs out the front door and watches in horror as Farhad shoots Lara. Daniel clutches his daughter as Farhad stands shocked as both realized she has not been hit by any bullet. Daniel runs into the house with his wife and daughter, leaving Farhad outside. Farhad later tells his daughter that he believes the little girl was his guardian angel, preventing him from committing a terrible crime. Dorri is then shown with the box of bullets she had purchased, labeled as blanks.

Hansen pulls over to pick up a hitchhiking Peter. As the two converse, it is clear that Hansen does not trust Peter. Peter begins to laugh suddenly, offending Hansen and causing him to pull over. As Peter attempts to explain why he is laughing, Hansen believes he is pulling out a gun and mistakenly shoots and kills Peter. In his hand is a statuette similar to the one on Hansen's dash. Horrified, Hansen hides the body in the bushes and burns his car. Waters arrives at the scene with his partner and the connection is made that Peter is his missing brother. His mother collapses upon seeing his body at the morgue, and Dorri is revealed to be the coroner. When Waters promises to find who is responsible, his mother tells him that it was his fault for not finding his younger brother.

Anthony decides to steal the van of the Korean man he accidentally hit, and drops it off at a chop shop he frequents, only to discover a number of Cambodian immigrants locked in the back of the van, revealing that the Korean man was involved in human trafficking. The chop shop owner offers him $500 per immigrant. While resting in her bed after falling down the stairs, Jean hugs Maria, saying she is the only true friend she has ever had and apologizes. Anthony is seen driving into Chinatown and sets the Cambodian people free, passing a car crash on his way out which turns out to involve Shaniqua.



Box officeEdit

Crash opened in wide release on May 6, 2005, and was a box office success in the late spring of 2005. The film had a budget of $6.5 million (plus $1 million in financing).[2] Because of the financial constraints, director Haggis filmed in his own house, borrowed a set from the TV show Monk, used his car in parts of the film, and even used cars from other staff members.[citation needed] The film grossed $53.4 million domestically, making back more than seven times its budget.[2] Despite its success in relation to its cost, Crash was the lowest-grossing film at the domestic box office to win Best Picture since The Last Emperor in 1987.[citation needed]

Critical responseEdit

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 74% based on 236 reviews, with an average score of 7.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A raw and unsettling morality piece on modern angst and urban disconnect, Crash examines the dangers of bigotry and xenophobia in the lives of interconnected Angelenos."[4] On Metacritic the film has a score of 69 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[5] According to CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[6]

Roger Ebert gave the film 4/4 stars and described it as "a movie of intense fascination",[7] listing it as the best film of 2005. The film also ranks at #460 in Empire's 2008 poll of the "500 Greatest Films of All Time".[8]

Some later reviews of Crash have been less favorable. Cultural critic Ta-Nehisi Coates criticized the film as shallow and "unthinking," naming Crash "the worst film of the decade."[9] The film has been critiqued for depicting the Persian shopkeeper as a "deranged, paranoid individual who is only redeemed by what he believes is a mystical act of God."[10] The film has also been criticized for using multicultural and sentimentalist imagery to cover over material and "historically sedimented inequalities" that continue to affect different racial groups in Los Angeles.[11]

In 2010, the Independent Film & Television Alliance selected Crash as one of the 30 Most Significant Independent Films of the last 30 years.[12]

Oscar controversyEdit

Crash won the Best Picture Oscar at the 78th Academy Awards, controversially beating the critically favored Brokeback Mountain and making it only the second film ever (the other being The Sting) to win the Academy Award for Best Picture without having been nominated for any of the three Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture (Best Drama, Best Comedy/Musical and Best Foreign Film).

The film's use of moral quandary as a storytelling medium was widely reported as ironic, since many saw it as the "safe" alternative to Brokeback Mountain, the plot of which focused on gay cowboys. Critic Kenneth Turan suggested that Crash benefited from anti-gay discomfort among Academy members,[13][14] while critic Roger Ebert was of a different opinion, arguing that the better film won that year. Ebert also questioned why many critics were not acknowledging the other nominees, claiming that they were criticizing Crash's win solely because it won over their preferred film.[15]

Film Comment magazine placed Crash first on their list of "Worst Winners of Best Picture Oscars", followed by Slumdog Millionaire at #2, and Chicago at #3.[16] Similarly, a 2014 survey of film critics by The Atlantic identified the film's victory as among the most glaring mistakes made by the Academy Awards.[17]

In 2015, The Hollywood Reporter polled hundreds of Academy members, asking them to re-vote on past controversial decisions. For the 2006 Best Picture winner, Brokeback Mountain beat Crash and the other nominees.[18]

In a 2015 interview, Paul Haggis commented : "Was [Crash] the best film of the year? I don't think so. There were great films that year. Good Night, and Good Luck – amazing film. Capote – terrific film. Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, great film. And Spielberg's Munich. I mean please, what a year. Crash, for some reason, affected people, it touched people. And you can't judge these films like that. I'm very glad to have those Oscars. They're lovely things. But you shouldn't ask me what the best film of the year was because I wouldn't be voting for Crash, only because I saw the artistry that was in the other films. Now however, for some reason that's the film that touched people the most that year. So I guess that's what they voted for, something that really touched them. And I'm very proud of the fact that Crash does touch you. People still come up to me more than any of my films and say: 'That film just changed my life.' I've heard that dozens and dozens and dozens of times. So it did its job there. I mean, I knew it was the social experiment that I wanted, so I think it's a really good social experiment. Is it a great film? I don't know".[19]


Crash was nominated for six awards at the 78th Academy Awards and won three, including the win for Best Picture. It was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards, one for Best Supporting Actor (Matt Dillon) and the other for Best Screenplay (Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco).

Other awards include Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the 2005 Screen Actors Guild Awards; Best Original Screenplay at the Writers Guild of America Awards 2005; Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (Newton) at the 59th British Academy Film Awards; Best Writer at the Critics' Choice Awards; Outstanding Motion Picture and Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role (Howard) at the Black Movie Awards; Best First Feature and Best Supporting Male (Dillon) at the Independent Spirit Awards; Best Cast and Best Writer at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards; and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Howard) and Outstanding Motion Picture at the NAACP Image Awards.

List of awards and nominations
Award Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result
78th Academy Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Director Paul Haggis Nominated
Best Film Editing Hughes Winborne Won
Best Picture Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman Won
Best Original Song "In the Deep" Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won
2006 ALMA Awards Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Michael Peña Won
1st Austin Film Critics Association Awards Best Director Paul Haggis Won
Best Film Won
59th BAFTA Film Awards Best Cinematography J. Michael Muro Nominated
Best Director Paul Haggis Nominated
Best Editing Hughes Winborne Nominated
Best Film Nominated
Best Sound Nominated
Best Screenplay – Original Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won
Best Supporting Actor Don Cheadle Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Thandie Newton Won
Black Reel Awards 2005 Best Actor Don Cheadle Nominated
Best Ensemble Won
Best Film Won
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Won
Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Thandie Newton Nominated
11th BFCA Critics' Choice Awards Best Cast Won
Best Director Paul Haggis Nominated
Best Film Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Nominated
Best Writer Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won
18th Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Film Won
Best Screenplay Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Nominated
12th Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Won
58th Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement Paul Haggis Nominated
Empire Awards Best Actor Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Actress Thandie Newton Won
Best Film Nominated
Scene of the Year Nominated
63rd Golden Globe Awards Best Screenplay Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Matt Dillon Nominated
37th NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Motion Picture Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Terrence Howard Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Chris "Ludacris" Bridges Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Don Cheadle Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Larenz Tate Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Thandie Newton Nominated
17th Producers Guild of America Awards Motion Picture Producer of the Year Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman Nominated
12th Screen Actors Guild Awards Best Cast Won
Best Supporting Actor Don Cheadle Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Nominated
6th Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Won
4th Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Cast Won
Best Film Nominated
Best Screenplay – Original Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Nominated
58th Writers Guild of America Awards Best Screenplay – Original Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won



All songs were written and composed by Mark Isham, except where noted. The original score was released through labels Gut and Colosseum in 2005. The iTunes release is the complete score released through Yari Music Group, and has the cues isolated and in film order (unlike the commercial score CD which is edited, incomplete, in a different order, and in suite form).[20]

1."Crash" 3:21
2."Go Forth My Son" 0:57
3."Hands in Plain Sight" 3:48
4."...Safe Now" 1:03
5."No Such Things as Monsters" 3:59
6."Find My Baby" 4:23
7."Negligence" 2:56
8."Flames" 7:59
9."Siren" 4:41
10."A Really Good Cloak" 3:28
11."A Harsh Warning" 2:51
12."Saint Christopher" 1:55
13."Sense of Touch" 6:44
14."In the Deep"Co-written by Bird York and Michael Becker; performed by Bird York5:55
15."Maybe Tomorrow"Performed by Stereophonics4:34

iTunes version (complete score)Edit

1."Main Title"5:14
2.""We've Got Guns""1:00
3."Black Navigator / The Grope"5:05
4."A Warning"1:18
5."Magic Cloak"4:00
6."Back to the Toilet"1:34
7.""Your Father Sounds Like a Good Man""4:22
9."Cameron – Receipt"2:23
10."The Rescue"5:57
11."News Conference"2:35
12."Car Jack II"1:46
13.""I Didn't Ask for Your Help""2:51
14.""You Embarrass Me""1:24
15."The Shooting"3:29
16."Jean's Fall"1:55
17."Illegals / Morgue"6:43


The soundtrack's title is Crash: Music from and Inspired by the Film.

1."If I..."KansasCali4:18
2."Plastic Jesus"Billy Idol4:49
3."Are You Beautiful"Chris Pierce2:52
5."Hey God"Randy Coleman4:04
6."Take the Pain Away"Al Berry4:19
8."Arrival"Pale 3/Beth Hirsch5:08
9."Acedia (The Noonday Demon)"Quinn3:00
10."In the Deep"Bird York3:48
12."Maybe Tomorrow"Stereophonics4:37

Note: The country song playing during the carjacking scene is "Whiskey Town" by Moot Davis.

Home mediaEdit

Crash was released on DVD on September 6, 2005, in widescreen and fullscreen one-disc versions, with a number of bonus features, including a music video by KansasCali (now known as The Rocturnals) for the song "If I..." from the soundtrack. The director's cut of the film was released in a two-disc special edition DVD on April 4, 2006, with more bonus content than the one-disc set. The director's cut is three minutes longer than the theatrical cut. The scene where Daniel is talking with his daughter under her bed is extended and a new scene is added with officer Hansen in the police station locker room.[citation needed]

The film also was released in a limited edition VHS version. It was the last film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture to be released in VHS format.[citation needed] It was also the first Best Picture winner to be released on Blu-ray Disc in the US, on June 27, 2006.[21]

Television seriesEdit

A 13-episode series premiered on the Starz network on October 17, 2008. The series features Dennis Hopper as a record producer in Los Angeles, California, and how his life is connected to other characters in the city, including a police officer (Ross McCall) and his partner, actress-turned-police officer, Arlene Tur. The cast consists of a Brentwood mother (Clare Carey), her real-estate developer husband (D. B. Sweeney), a former gang member-turned-EMT (Brian Tee), a street-smart driver (Jocko Sims), an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant (Luis Chavez), and a detective (Nick Tarabay).[22]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "CRASH (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2005-03-04. Retrieved 2013-05-15.
  2. ^ a b c d "Crash (2005)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved October 12, 2012.
  3. ^ Crash DVD Commentary Track. 2005.
  4. ^ "Crash (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  5. ^ "Crash Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  6. ^ "Crash". CinemaScore. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 5, 2005). "Crash". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  8. ^ "Empire Features". Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  9. ^ "Worst Movie of the Decade".
  10. ^ "Crash and the City". May 7, 2007. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  11. ^ "Film Criticism Current Issue". Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  12. ^ "IFTA Picks 30 Most Significant Indie Films". The Wrap. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  13. ^ Turan, Kenneth (March 5, 2006). "Breaking no ground: Why 'Crash' won, why 'Brokeback' lost and how the Academy chose to play it safe". The Los Angeles Times.
  14. ^ "Maybe Crash's upset at the Oscars shouldn't have been such a surprise?". The Los Angeles Times. April 16, 2009.
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 6, 2006). "The fury of the 'Crash'-lash". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved October 12, 2012.
  16. ^ "Extended Trivial Top 20®". March–April 2012. Retrieved October 12, 2012.
  17. ^ Roumell, Graham, "What was the biggest Oscar mistake ever made?" March 2014
  18. ^ "Crash Burned: Academy Members Reassess Past Oscar Decisions". The Guardian. February 19, 2015.
  19. ^ Child, Ben (12 August 2015). "Paul Haggis: Crash didn't deserve best picture Oscar". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  20. ^ "iTunes - Crash by Mark Isham".
  21. ^ "Historical Blu-ray Release Dates". Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  22. ^ "Crash: A Starz Original Series". Archived from the original on October 15, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2010.

External linksEdit